Card shop that holds all the aces

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse: night before opening at the multi-charity card shop

I don’t know what’s got into Cards for Good Causes this year, but the gremlins have certainly been hard at work. The admin normally runs very smoothly for the charity Christmas card shop at the Rye Community Centre, with correspondence from head office arriving months in advance. This year, last-minute communiqués have been flowing thick and fast, with the accompanying notes from the local organiser getting more and more shrill!

Armed with reams of memos listing “things to watch out for”, we started setting up the shop this week. And, yes, someone somewhere has definitely slipped up: duplicate cards for one charity; none for another; too many packs of one design; duplicate paperwork; missing paperwork. I was just glad we didn’t have the same problem as one shop which was sent 15 boxes of  “bargain” packs instead of 15 packs.

We’re ready now and the shop opens tomorrow, Friday October 31, with more than 2,500 cards from 35-plus charities. There are four newcomers – the best recruit being the Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital: two designs, including Richard Adams’s totally original take on Christmas in Rye. For the first time we also have cards from the Mothers’ Union, Christianaid / Tradecraft and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

Both Romney Marsh churches and the Music Well have fresh designs. As usual, those for the Music Well are prints from Andrew Blyth paintings, sold individually as they are rather different. Extra packs of the Romney Marsh churches’ cards have been ordered even before we open as the charity is regularly one of our best sellers and the new cards will fly off the shelf.

To raise the profile of the shop we are holding a coffee morning on November 8. The town crier will be ringing his bell and yelling his head off for us at 10am and the Salvation Army choir hopes to be performing – if they can muster enough voices and instruments. There’ll be coffee, tea, biscuits and homemade cakes (donations towards costs gratefully received) to tempt you into staying around and buying your Christmas cards early– not to mention wrapping paper, gift tags, Advent calendars, small gifts and toys.

Obviously we are aiming to exceed last year’s sales, but that won’t be easy. I’ve been managing shops for CfGC for eight years and the trend has been down; not a lot, but definitely not up. That’s life in “austerity Britain”. Maybe this year we can buck the trend.

The shop is in the old chapel at the back of Rye Community Centre, Conduit Hill. It is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm, until December 19. For more information on Cards for Good Causes visit its website.

Trump card: there’s plenty more than just cards – all for charity

Photos: Tony Nunn